Liverpool look set to appoint the veteran German football executive Jörg Schmadtke as the club’s new sporting director.
Telegraph Sport can exclusively reveal that Schmadtke has emerged as the shock frontrunner for the role after talks between the 59-year-old and Liverpool accelerated.
Schmadtke most recently worked at Wolfsburg but has extensive experience in the game over two decades, starting at Aachen in 2001 and then on to Hannover and FC Cologne. He is known for his outspoken style and also for recruitment that gets value for the budgets he is assigned.
The position is crucial for Liverpool with the club having seen the departure of Michael Edwards last summer who was quickly followed out the door by his successor Julian Ward. The club’s successful recruitment has been its core strength in supporting Jurgen Klopp’s dynamic style of management in a period that has seen them win the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup under their German coach.
It has come under scrutiny over the past 12 months, as well as the dreadful run of injuries that has blighted this season – although Liverpool have rallied of late. Their win over Brentford kept alive their slim hopes of a finish in the Champions League places.
As well as the successive departures of Edwards and Ward, the Fenway Sports Group executive Mike Gordon – most closely aligned with recruitment – has stepped back from that role. He has to step back in to that area in recent months and led the search for a sporting director.
Schmadtke is understood to be an ally of Klopp and will work closely with long-serving chief scouts Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter. Schmadtke comes with a wealth of experience as well as a robust sense of humor.
In a recent interview with the German football magazine Kicker after his departure from Wolfsburg, he said that his relationship with some managers had been difficult. “There are technical things, it’s about the job,” he said. “And there are things outside of the job that I don’t have a problem with. There are even people who want to see me again and have a coffee or a beer with me. I’m not as big an ass as you may think.”
A former goalkeeper who was a stalwart as a player at Fortuna Dusseldorf and Freiburg in the 1980s and 1990s, he fell into the sporting director role at Aachen, having first been a goalkeeper coach. He joked that he applied for that first role at Aachen out of “a mixture of curiosity and desperation.”
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